While I really like the SF Giants over 80.5 wins, I prefer long(er) shots, as opposed to tying up money at -110 for six-plus months. The following are hardly favorites but will provide more bang for your buck if you're looking to bet on 2023 MLB futures. Good luck with your wagers!
All betting odds courtesy of BetMGM
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 15/1
Vlad is one season removed from posting .311-48-111-123 as a 22-year-old and will be looking to bounce back after “disappointing” last year. He’ll be playing on a team projected to make the postseason and will benefit greatly from Toronto’s new dimensions. THE BAT X projects only three AL batters with a higher wRC+, and they all (Aaron Judge, Mike Trout and Yordan Alvarez) have significant injury concerns. Meanwhile, Guerrero has averaged 700-plus plate appearances the past two seasons. He’s also slated to hit in the middle of a Blue Jays lineup projected to score the most runs in the American League, so counting stats should be there, too.
Fewer ground balls and better defense would be nice, but let’s reiterate that Guerrero is still just 23 years old. The first triple crown in more than a decade is a real possibility.
Ricky Tiedemann 150/1
Albeit younger, Tiedemann could be on a similar path as Alek Manoah, whom Toronto wasted no time calling up to the majors. ZiPS is projecting a 9.9 K rate for the rookie, which only 10 starters in the majors bested last season. There’s strong competition in Hunter Brown (+800), Grayson Rodriguez (+900), Masataka Yoshida (+600) and many others in the AL ROY race, but Tiedemann should start racking up wins the moment he enters the rotation with the help of a Blue Jays offense projected to score the most runs in the American League. Given his skills, situation and possible opportunity, 150/1 seems like a gift.
Kyle Harrison 25/1
Many people are calling Harrison’s floor a healthy Chris Sale. In all seriousness, Harrison is baseball’s best left-handed pitching prospect who’s ready to contribute sooner rather than later. The Giants’ rotation looks deep on paper, but it’s not a group strong enough to hold back a prospect who just struck out 186 batters over 113.0 innings as a 20-year-old. Harrison won’t pitch deep into games, but ZiPS is projecting a 10/7 K rate that would’ve been the sixth-best among starters last season. San Francisco also made a point of improving its defense over the winter.
• Andrew Painter (14/1) and Eury Perez (66/1) are viable options as well.
Given his terrific defense (and the possibility of the Twins winning their division), Buxton to win MVP (30/1) is an option, but he has even longer odds here. This route also opens up the possibility of Buxton seeing more time at DH in an effort to stay healthy. There’s no question that he’s a huge risk with a long injury history, but hopefully, knee surgery corrected one of his biggest issues. Moreover, Buxton’s performance on the field (even when playing badly compromised at times) has been incredible, including a pace of 51 homers, 14 steals and 8.9 bWAR per 162 games the past three years. Buxton also has the third-most HR/AB the past two seasons. (Aaron Judge was aided by “Goldilocks Balls.” )
Fairbanks is absolutely filthy and could see most of Tampa Bay’s saves after signing a three-year deal. He has had durability issues, and TB has no shortage of dominant bullpen arms to mix and match (there’s an argument that Jason Adam was the AL’s best reliever last season). But this is 80/1 on possibly baseball’s best reliever pitching for a team projected to approach 90 wins.
While there’s a perception that the Rays don’t like to use full-time closers, they’ve had five relievers rack up 35-plus saves over the past decade. Put differently, a Tampa Bay reliever has led the American League in saves three times since 2010. And Fairbanks had a 0.86 FIP last season!
Milwaukee is projected to be right there to win the NL Central before entering a wide-open tournament; no team is projected to win more than 93 games this season. The Brewers’ offense has questions (an upgrade at the trade deadline would help), but in a short series, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, (hopefully) Aaron Ashby, Matt Bush and Devin Williams offer as much upside as any front/back-end of a staff in baseball. There shouldn’t be 13 teams more favored to win the 2023 World Series than Milwaukee, which will also benefit from traveling the fewest miles this season.
The Twins should benefit from playing in the Central division, with no team projected to win even 85 games. The point here is to get to the playoffs with a 40/1 ticket (opening up hedging if preferred) in a sport such as baseball, in which a 162-game regular-season sample suddenly comes down to three games. Like the Brewers, the Twins have concerns on offense (albeit with a legit MVP candidate should Byron Buxton somehow stay healthy) but real pitching upside, including a potential dominant closer in Jhoan Duran. Minnesota will eventually get back one of MLB’s best prospects (Royce Lewis), and it has a motivated Carlos Correa and what looks like a terrific defense.
I’ll take 40/1 on a team that’s too loaded for Bailey Ober to open the season in the rotation.